Is it geographical? Cultural? Familial? Some combination?
We think community is a deliberate thing. You can live in a neighborhood that, in spite of facilitating geographic proximity, doesn’t facilitate community. You can even be part of a family that, while related by blood, doesn’t have a sense of community.
(Though we hope that’s not the case for you.)
Community is intentional. It requires some commonalities, but it doesn’t require participants to be universally likeminded. After all, that’d be boring. Community is what happens when people share a voluntary commitment to each other, to a purpose, or to a place.
Let’s be clear: You don’t need to live in the same place in order to be part of a shared community— in fact, there are an increasing number of online communities — but it helps to have space, real or virtual, to convene.
It used to be that our environments created community. Rather than park in front of the television each night, people would sit on front porches and engage with neighbors. Rather than scurry from home to work and back again, there used to be social and recreational clubs where people would stop by in between and decompress together.
So what happened? We started hurrying. We closed off. The social and recreational clubs closed. That means we need to be more deliberate in our creation of community. How? Look for opportunities. Bring a meal to a new neighbor, or neighbors with a new baby in the family. Sit on your porch (or your front steps if you don’t have a porch) and say hello to passersby.
And, perhaps the most deliberate thing you can do is look for an existing community in your area and join in. Not all of those social and recreational clubs are closed. Hint: The University Club of Saint Paul is holding strong and the Saint Paul Athletic Club is newly reopened. Demand for both spaces is clear evidence that we crave this sense of community.
Why is community important? It imparts a sense of belonging. It provides support. It gives you people with whom to celebrate, grieve, or just connect. It deepens and enriches your days, breaking up monotony and creating meaningful relationships.
What communities are you part of?